posts 1 - 15 of 17
freemanjud
Boston, US
Posts: 288



Sources to peruse:


For this assignment, I’m asking you not to do conventional readings but rather to look at several powerful websites/online exhibitions:


  1. World War I via photographs
  2. World War I by the numbers
  3. 5 Things You Need to Know about World War I
  4. The firsts of World War I
  5. The first World War: The Study of a Global Conflict. For this site, poke around. This site is SIMPLY AMAZING. Pay particular attention to these sections:

#1: Origins [3:16]

#3: Empires [3:29]

#5: Slaughter [5:05]

And make sure you click on the interactives between the horizontal number menu along

the lower part of the screen.


The four BIG questions I’d like you to address in this post depend on your thoughtful and careful examination of the five items above, coupled with the World War I film you watched (from the previous assignment) and considered. As you respond, please make specific reference to these five items AND the film you watched AS WELL AS anything relevant from class.


  • We can debate the whys behind the war, the long-term and short-term causes (and I’m sure you’ve taken tests in other classes about this) etc. but here’s the essential question that matters: What was the point? What was gained from this war? What was lost? Why did it matter?
  • What lessons should we learn from this war? (And by extension, what lessons did the world learn—at the time?)
  • There are folks who argue that there was a world before the First World War and an entirely different world afterwards. Is that true? What changed forever?
  • And finally, why is it important to understand World War I and learn about it, even if we can argue that war = insanity, this one in particular?
Yiddeon
Boston, Massachusetts , US
Posts: 17

The Insanity that was World War I

The entirety of the first world war was started by a tiny country called Serbia. A Serbian nationalist assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire. There were two countries that had real reasons to fight in this war. The rest had various interests that they wanted to attain or support and had various treaties that they felt obligated to uphold. The winners gained more colonies, a stronger hold of Europe, and a promise of money from Germany that they would never get. France and England were able to expand their empires, which allowed htem to put more people under their control. The losers in the case of Russia got a revolution, Austria-Hungary got torn apart, and Germany was forced to pay money that it didn’t have and lower its military power. None of this is worth the millions of deaths that it caused. None of this is worth tens of thousands of souldiers who were forced to come home missing legs and arms. None of this is worth the millions of civillians that were killed in the countries petty attemtps at power. None of the advances are worth any of the losses.


The tangle of world alliances caused the war to be so far-reaching. In hindsight, it seems obvious that we should not have alliances and pacts such as those during that time. Sense Nato has been formed so not much has been learned. At the time the world learned that they should never allow another war that was like the first world war. Less than thirty years later the second world war would start. Today there is very little different other than the countries that are currently allies. We are on the verge of another European war. A war that if it occurs will be fought over more petty disputes between countries. It seems clear that no lessons were learned from the war. If the world repeats the same mistakes again and again then no lessons were learned.


The world before World War I and after were diffirent places. Germany the largest growing empire had its legs swept out from under it. The thoughts of war changed. At the start of the war children would go to recruiting offices claiming they were older or told to lie about their age because they wanted to go on an adventure. By the end of the war people understood that there was no glory in war. Shellschock was recognized during the war as just one of the invisible affects of war. The gas used on soldiers and civilians showed the brutality that had been hidden before the advent of total war. The world as a whole matured becuase of the war. Many things however would not change. The world would be plunged into another world war when they so quickly forgot the damage the first caused.


The feelings that the world could not allow a war of that magnitude again, despite not being followed, are important. Assuming that war is insanity. It would be insane to start one. That is the lesson that WWI gives. War seems to be inevitable. There will probobly never be world peace, but it is important that we do not repeat some of the mistakes that were made during this war. We can not use chemical weapons, even though they have been used since. The more knowlege that we have about the mistakes that we made in the past allows us to not make those mistakes again.

Clover52
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 16

I think this war was pretty pointless really. It was fought over a refusal to apologize, which can be a real reason but the fact that it had such a large cost was outrageous. Millions and millions of lives were lost and more injured permanently. It really showed the extent of the brutality that humans are capable of for the first time, but still, more people went to fight. It mattered because it was the first major world conflict in history and even though it was called “The War to End All Wars”, that certainly wasn’t the case.


People learned about the violence and pure evil that others can inflict on another human being through photography and videos of people in the trenches, but also the victims and veterans of the war itself. Soldiers saw taking life as nothing but a job to do. Mostly everyone who fought in WWI thought they were fighting for a good cause, for their country, for peace, but this was not really the case. I personally can not think of anything that is worth the loss of around 40 million people. People should have learned that there are other ways to settle disagreements than murder, but they didn’t. After WWI, people became more afraid, they saw what could happen and didn’t want it to happen again, but it did, and relatively shortly after. The way people fought wars changed, and warfare itself became more deadly. Technological advancements helped weapons of mass destruction become more common and efficient. Effectively, this led to even more lives being lost in WWII which just doesn’t seem fathomable.


The first link with the photographs was shocking to me. When I just saw the very first picture, all you could see is a desolate wasteland with bombed and destroyed trees. It doesn’t look like anything was ever alive there, it seems impossible. The photos give you a window into what it was really like, something you can’t get from just reading a textbook. It also showed the kind of bizarre happiness that people had to fight. The soldiers celebrating Christmas during the war seem to have no worries at all, despite being in the middle of the biggest war so far in history. The second link with the numbers was really difficult for me to wrap my head around. I can’t imagine the number of people or statistics that were provided. It's jarring to learn about. The website about the Firsts in WWI showcased the advancements in warfare, including the use of chemical warfare which became very popular during WWII as well. The last website was amazing to look at. It offered real-life footage from the Great War as well as the background to it which was very easy to understand. I watched the movie 1917 for the previous assignment, and it was pretty shocking to me, even though I had known about WWI before. The way the movie was filmed showed the determination of soldiers in WWI and how their one goal was to win the war no matter what. Despite his friend being murdered in front of him, the main character had to still go through with his mission. I also liked how it showed the relationship between citizens and soldiers when the main character met the woman. She was afraid and wanted him to stay, but he had to get back to his mission. I think meeting the woman gave him more strength to keep going and keep fighting for her and other innocent civilians.


I really think that all of this just shows the extremes that people will go to in war, the insanity people are capable of in the face of war, and the pure disregard for human life during battles, especially concerning WWI.

dollarcoffee
Boston, MA
Posts: 27

I’m not really sure what the point of this war was. At first glance, it seems like it was over pieces of land in Europe, and also because of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, but it also seems like individual countries had different motivations for getting involved. But the amount of lives lost on both sides- 21.5 million- doesn’t seem equal to the things they were fighting over. Advances in technology were gained from this war, like increased production of goods as shown in the “5 Things You Need To Know About WW1,” as countries got more involved in rapid production of goods, specifically weapons. It was also the first war where aircrafts were widely used, and now planes are a massive part of warfare today. I think the biggest thing lost in this war was life. Roughly 21.5 million people died, 8.5 million of those being troops and the rest being civilians (WW1 in Numbers), and so many soldiers suffered the effects of “shell shock” or PTSD caused by war, and mental health treatment was not as advanced or widely understood as it is now, which likely caused disastrous effects in these surviving soldiers’ lives. (Firsts of WW1) Another big thing lost in this war was youth. As we saw in the movie “They Shall Not Grow Old”, many of the soldiers in the army were young men, some as young as 12, who didn’t understand the horror of war they would have to experience and thought they were going into a “cigar war”, where they wouldn’t really be fighting. This all matters because this was one of, arguably the first, event that affected a majority of the world, with a widespread amount of death on a scale human history hadn’t seen before this event.

I think the biggest lesson the world should learn from this war is that history must be remembered. As tensions brew between Russia and the US because of the situation in Ukraine, it is crucial to remember that certain actions on either side can provoke war, which will divide the world between two massive powers, and could potentially catapult us into another world war. It is absolutely crucial that people in power remember their actions have consequences, and that wars have been started before over smaller things, and led to disastrous consequences.

There were definitely two different worlds before and after WW1. In the Atlantic’s collection of WW1 in photos, there’s a photo of a dog dressed as a German soldier, and while that may seem humorous at first, there’s a deeper meaning behind it. War previously had been something for many people, especially in the Western world, that “didn’t happen here.” It usually happened in faraway places, and military service was something to choose to do, instead of being forced into it. WW1 forced many parts of the world that hadn’t seen it before into the front lines of war, forcing them to confront it, making it such a normal part of life that a man decides to make a tiny soldier outfit for his dog. Before WW1, he may not have made a soldier’s outfit, but since war was thrusted into the front of everyone’s mind, forcing everyone to abandon normal life, it makes sense for a man to make a dog a soldier costume.

It is crucial for us to study WW1 so we don’t let it happen again. It happened over seemingly small events, and led to an amount of human caused death, destruction, and trauma never seen before in human history. We must study it, no matter how “insane” it seems, so we don’t forget it, and don’t let something small spiral into a war that could cause death on this scale again.

dollarcoffee
Boston, MA
Posts: 27

Originally posted by Yiddeon on February 17, 2022 10:32

The entirety of the first world war was started by a tiny country called Serbia. A Serbian nationalist assassinated the heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire. There were two countries that had real reasons to fight in this war. The rest had various interests that they wanted to attain or support and had various treaties that they felt obligated to uphold. The winners gained more colonies, a stronger hold of Europe, and a promise of money from Germany that they would never get. France and England were able to expand their empires, which allowed htem to put more people under their control. The losers in the case of Russia got a revolution, Austria-Hungary got torn apart, and Germany was forced to pay money that it didn’t have and lower its military power. None of this is worth the millions of deaths that it caused. None of this is worth tens of thousands of souldiers who were forced to come home missing legs and arms. None of this is worth the millions of civillians that were killed in the countries petty attemtps at power. None of the advances are worth any of the losses.


The tangle of world alliances caused the war to be so far-reaching. In hindsight, it seems obvious that we should not have alliances and pacts such as those during that time. Sense Nato has been formed so not much has been learned. At the time the world learned that they should never allow another war that was like the first world war. Less than thirty years later the second world war would start. Today there is very little different other than the countries that are currently allies. We are on the verge of another European war. A war that if it occurs will be fought over more petty disputes between countries. It seems clear that no lessons were learned from the war. If the world repeats the same mistakes again and again then no lessons were learned.


The world before World War I and after were diffirent places. Germany the largest growing empire had its legs swept out from under it. The thoughts of war changed. At the start of the war children would go to recruiting offices claiming they were older or told to lie about their age because they wanted to go on an adventure. By the end of the war people understood that there was no glory in war. Shellschock was recognized during the war as just one of the invisible affects of war. The gas used on soldiers and civilians showed the brutality that had been hidden before the advent of total war. The world as a whole matured becuase of the war. Many things however would not change. The world would be plunged into another world war when they so quickly forgot the damage the first caused.


The feelings that the world could not allow a war of that magnitude again, despite not being followed, are important. Assuming that war is insanity. It would be insane to start one. That is the lesson that WWI gives. War seems to be inevitable. There will probobly never be world peace, but it is important that we do not repeat some of the mistakes that were made during this war. We can not use chemical weapons, even though they have been used since. The more knowlege that we have about the mistakes that we made in the past allows us to not make those mistakes again.

I agree so much with your last paragraph. I was thinking about chemical weapons a lot while I was looking at the WW1 in Numbers article, and thinking about how if we let a war like this happen again, it would be 10x worse with chemical weapons, which could kill millions in split seconds. That's why its so, so crucial for us to study a war like this, that started over land, and just continued to grow and grow, to make sure nothing on this scale- or worse- ever happens again.

poptarts
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22
  • The point of the war was for nations to showcase their power to each other. The Germans, for example, saw the opportunity to take over more of Europe's land for themselves, and that's exactly what they began to do. One of the things gained in the war was the extreme industrialization of the US, because it gave us so much power over many other countries (but then again even with this then came the great depression and just completely got rid of the power stance we held.) Another was the revolution in Russia, which helped shape it into the country we know today. Other than the absurd amount of money lost in the war, hundreds of thousands of people were lost. As the BBC article says, around 13 million civilians and 8.5 million troops died. And other than affecting the lives of pretty much everyone, it laid the foundation for WWII and the great depression.
  • I feel like there was a lack of a lesson learned because of how there was the second world war not even 50 years later, and we’re currently on the verge of another big war in Europe with the Russia and Ukraine situation. We should never let something of that size happen again (but I’ll go into that in a second) and don’t go to war simply just to show off how powerful you are. Even if you think you might be able to just take more without hurting that many, you’re still going to harm people and forever change their lives.
  • One thing that changed forever was the lives of those who experienced it, whether they be soldiers or ordinary civilians. Soldiers all over the world had seen and experienced so many things that would forever leave a scar on them, both physically and emotionally. I watched the movie War Requiem, and while watching I could see the slow descent into madness that those who were directly involved in the war went through. Even with no dialogue, the emotions could be felt and seen so clearly. Towards the end, a woman who had lost a loved one to the war begins this cycle of hysterically crying and dancing, switching between the two while sitting near the deathbed of said loved one. While watching you can see just how intensely it is affecting her, and how intensely it affected everyone.
  • World War I was a turning point for the world, there had never really been a war this intense before and it forever changed the lives of people. Understanding this war will allow us to understand many of the things that came after it, like how the economy was affected by it, how societies were changed, and how governments planned differently. But another thing it is extremely important to see and understand is that we shouldn’t let another war this size happen again. Now that we have more advanced mechanical and chemical warfare, we could easily wipe out over half the population with little to no effort. Letting anything near that size happen again would be a catastrophe, some might say even bigger than WWI.
Blue terrier
Posts: 23

World War 1 was one of the most, if not the most, important historical events in world history, and it changed the course of history forever. It’s mind boggling to think that a war with 20 million deaths and 21 million more injured all started with the assisination of Franz Ferdinand. Sure, the tensions were there before, but the assisination brought these tensions to a boil, and this boil made the war an official world war, as different world powers including the United States joined the effort. In a few short months the world had completely changed, and it was ar war. When discussing the question of was the war worth it, I cannot find a piece in myself that believes WWI was worth it. While watching the short film They Will not Grow Old in class and looking through the images from theatlantic.com, it dawned on me that the war effort was not fought by powerful world leaders or highly skilled soldiers. The majority of the casualties were young men. Young men not too far from my own age, who joined the war either via a draft or willingly. Although it is impossible to generalize the thoughts of every soldier, I think it is safe to say that the majority of these young men did not fully fathom the atrocities and horrors that would be exposed to them during WWI. Furthermore, the unstable and lopsided Treaty of Versailles led to the next world war only a few decades later. Although in 1919 they did not know this would happen, it was obvious that the wounds of WWI were deep and still left open. There was quite literally nothing rewarding or worth it about WWI. The casualties, bloodshed, and years of traumas a result of the war are unfathomable, and nothing could be worth what occurred during WWI.

I wish that I could write that the world learned a valuable lesson about the real atrocities of war and the world sought to prevent a global war in the future. However, the world did not learn much from the atrocities of WWI. The world saw another war on a global scale only around 20 years after the Treaty of Versailles. Although the circumstances were different, and more urgent, we still saw several other wars that involved multiple world powers and many many dead, such as the Vietnam War, The Korean War, the Iraq War. WWI, bleakly, did teach us new methods of destruction, however. WWI was the first time that gas was used as a weapon. Tanks, machine guns, and other forms of artillery were used for the first time. WWI made war less personal, and changed the way we know war as a world forever.

The world was indeed a different place after WWI. The horrors that occurred were unprecedented and unforeseen by the world. The war uniquely affected every world citizen, something that was unheard of up until that point. Huge portions of the population were gone. Friends, loved ones, family members were gone. The war also caused several drastic historical events. The war caused the Russian revolution led by the Bolsheviks which changed the face of Russia forever. As mentioned before, WWI was also the catalyst for WWII. WWI also was the cause of several countries disappearing, like the Ottoman Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the German Empires.

As with most things in history, it is vital that we study WWI because those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. There was nothing rewarding that came out of WWI. It was an unnecessary war that changed the course of history forever. If we do not fully understand the causes and effects of WWI and try to wrap our heads around the immense amount of death and destruction, we are doomed to have it happen again.

augustine
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 18

The circumstances, the causes- all of that can be debated, but the bottom line is that there was no point to the war. It caused millions of deaths and injuries, lasting trauma for everyone involved, and virtually nothing to show for it but destruction. The winners gained more territory, and by extension more power, while the losers lost everything- some falling to revolution, others crumbling or forced to pay money that they did not have. It changed the global stage, and even laid the groundwork for the next World War. Warfare itself was changed, becoming more industrialized, and even more deadly then it already was.


I’m not sure that this lesson was learned, given how shortly after the next war followed, but the lesson that I think should be taken from World War I is the redundancy of war. No one was liberated by the war, no freedom’s were protected- it only left the world in a worse state then it had been in before, and paved the way for even more conflict. At several stages before the war it could have been stopped, or at least kept to a more local level- but countries eager to prove themselves, and powerful countries looking to stay that way were directly responsible for the 21.5 million deaths that the global conflict caused. I watched the movie 1917, one that I had seen before but rewatched for this assignment. It is one of my absolute favorite movies, because it is a war movie thats only message is how pointless war is. The main character spends the whole movie on what he is convinced is an all important mission to save over a thousand men, only to find out that the message was just one of hundreds of contradictory messages sent from command. This small piece of the war represents its redundancy as a whole. Soldiers fought because they believed it was important, that it was for a reason, which we know wasn’t true. Another thing that stuck out to me was the number of men the main character was trying to save was 1600, which in reality is a lot of people, but compared to the tens of millions that died, it almost seems like 1600 wouldn’t matter at all, another aspect of the movie that really solidifies the massive toll World War I took.


The world before WWI is most definitely different then the world after. The war brought so many new things- and the part that suck out to me was how widespread it was. Obviously the term ‘world war’ implies the whole world is involved, but it still struck me to learn that over 30 nations were involved. As I looked through the photographs, I saw men in kilts, and men wearing turbans- people from all over the world pulled into the war. This had never happened before, and the alliances that were formed absolutely had a lasting impact. The outcome of the war also changed things- among other countries, Russia fell to revolution soon after the war ended. The Bolshevik Revolution might have happened regardless of the war, but the conditions that it created most certainly sped up the process, plunging Russia into turmoil, and ultimately introducing communism as a major world view. WWI caused these sort of ‘domino effects’ in several places, so on top of warfare being irreversibly changed, the global stage was too.


We need to learn about WWI for the same reason we learn all history- so that we don’t repeat it. The war was an avoidable conflict that could have ended several times, and when it did end, it created even more problems. Especially now, with the very delicate situation in Ukraine, learning about the devastation this war caused, and reminding ourselves how unnecessary it was, is absolutely crucial. If we don’t learn about our history, then repeating our mistakes is inevitable.

no-one
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 22

While World War 2 saw far more loss of life and even greater horrors than the first one, it ended with the defeat of fascist powers (at least, for the moment) and felt as though the countless deaths had been in service of a just, noble, and worthy cause. World War 1 is so uniquely appalling because it seems as though so many lives were lost for absolutely nothing. There were few serious ideological differences between the powers: the war was not fought over religion, like so many past European wars, or doctrine, like the Spanish Civil War. In fact, the rulers of the nations were close before the war, many of them even family; photo 2 from the Atlantic World War 1 in Photos article shows the monarchs of Europe posing amicably together. Theirs was a struggle not for higher reasons but out of greed for colonial territory, desire to test out new weaponry, and growing nationalism. It accomplished very little. The war definitely did catalyze innovation and industry, as many wars tend to do. The "Five Things You Should Know About World War 1" article shows the many developments made in the war in technology, like airplanes, and new advances in medicine and manufacturing. However, these benefits are few compared to the immense devastation the war brought; according to "World War 1 By the Numbers", 8.5 million troops of the 65 million around the world who fought in the war are thought to have been killed- that is around 3% of the entire world population at the time who fought in this war.

While it is hard to prove that WW1 improved much about the world, it certainly changed many things. World War 1 can be seen as the transition point into the modern age, bringing an end to many of the old monarchies of Europe, the old ways of "civilized" war, and evoking a newfound cynicism in the minds of the people who experienced wartime. As the final "The Study of a Global Conflict" videos put it, "The First World War was the end of society as it used to be...of humanity as it used to be." The poetry of Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves, and others evoked a dissatisfaction and disillusionment with the narratives of Western tradition and a desire to expose the harsh realities of the world. The Modernist movement in literature and art saw a world beginning to move outside the strict confines of reality and explore abstraction and absurdity.

The Firsts of the First World War article shows that the new methods of war (poison gas, bombing of civilians, etc.) were somehow far crueler not only in the number of lives they took but the sheer impersonality and brutality of their use, with soldiers and civilians being killed by unseen people rather than on a level playing field. The war would have many far-reaching political effects as well. In 1917 alone, the rise of Communism following the Russian Revolution, the entry of the United States into the war and its self-assertion as a true global power, and the Balfour Declaration which gave legitimacy to the Zionist movement and would transform the politics of the Middle East to this day all defined the world of the twentieth century.

It is important to learn from this war both because its effects remain important to this day, and because its events still echo today. The establishment of the League of Nations after the war, and later the United Nations, both were attempts to avoid the bloodbath of the World Wars from happening again, by solving problems of international conflict without violence. This is a lesson most critical today, as the situation on the border of Ukraine plays out, a lesson of the immense cost of violence and warfare and how essential it is to avoid them at all costs. World War 1 still captures the popular imagination today: I watched the film 1917, following two British soldiers on a desperate mission to call off an attack and save countless lives, which came out just a few years ago, and the video game Battlefield 1, about World War 1, was also immensely popular, and it seems that in some ways we remain both horrified and fascinated by it. However, it is important not just to trivialize the war into an aesthetic but to acknowledge its human cost and to learn from the mistakes of the past to avoid such a disaster reoccurring.

stylishghost
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 25

The "Great War"

World war I was in no way the “Great war”. The purpose of the war was supposedly to gain land and power, yet only a few miles were claimed or lost. However the war helped to make massive technological advancements. Previous wars had only men, guns, and horses. Now, flamethrowers shot 100+ feet into enemy territory, planes from above dropped bombs that civilians had never seen before, and poison gas caused long-term health effects. “Terror weapons,” as desribed in the article on the firsts of WWI, took contol and no longer was the battle a human one. This had a long term effect not just on future wars but technological advancement in general, like the airplane.

Despite the benefit of WWI’s technology, the loss was far greater. As written in WWI by the numbers article, 65 million citizens fought worldwide. That number is nearly impossible to picture, but even more unfathomable is the death toll. 8.5 million troops, and 13 million civilians. Not only were lives lost, but the livelihoods of those who did survive were destroyed forever. The new term “shell shock” was coined, and the war slowly became a destruction not of human lives, but morale, as described through the 5 things to know article.

This war, even if it was counterproductive, can still teach us a lot. What I learned the most personally, was the role that nationalism played in the war. Especially as it was discussed on the study of global conflict website, World War one was not just fought by white Europeans who were forced to enlist. Many people, around the entire world, enlisted willingly for their country. India sent 1 million troops to the front, in hopes of maintaining safety with Britain. Some even called the front lines the “first united nations,” which really shows that it wasn't just a war of rich European nations with too much time on their hands.

The world was different before and after World War One, and I think the most obvious way that this was illustrated was through images. The trenches and craters, the mud and snow of the desolate landscape during and after the war on the western front, as shown in the images article, give a visual and physical depiction of the Earth after the great war. Nations were left with cavernous holes like the ones the cannonballs left, and human life was depleted tremendously.

GullAlight
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 20

There was little actual point in fighting World War 1. As in most wars, the only people who actually suffered were normal people, and not the governments who decided to join the war in the first place. There is rarely any justifiable cause in fighting war, but World War 1 especially was simply caused by too many alliances, and every country’s desire to demonstrate the strength of their military. The outdated tactics of war, paired with new technology, created immense loss of life. All of the soldiers fighting in the war had families at home, families who would feel their loss; there is no excuse that could justify this war. When considering this war, the BBC article, “World War One in numbers,” is able to provide the most information of the incomprehensible loss of life that the war caused: 65 million soldiers fought in the war, of which 8.5 million were killed, and 21 million killed. In addition to this, another 13 million civilians were killed. Although it did have far reaching impacts on the political and economic landscape of Europe, the true significance of the war can be measured by lives that were permanently affected by the war. It cannot be said enough times that there is no reason that could have made all of this suffering, especially of civilians and the inexperienced soldiers drafted to fight in the war, worth it.

So many of the figures we see as instrumental in beginning the war were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time: Gavrilo Princip was only 19 when he killed the Archduke, and only 23 when he died in prison. He was simply one conspirator who got lucky, swept up in matters larger than him. In addition, the soldiers in the movie “The Trench: Last Days before the Battle of the Somme,” demonstrate the same naivete and blind courage. They were all in their late teens when they enlisted, and relied on the leadership of their experienced commander to survive the trenches. Although they didn’t know it at the time, they were to be part of the first wave of attack in the Battle of the Somme, one of the deadliest battles in history, with over three million combatants and more than a million casualties and injuries. The final scene in the movie depicts them going over the top, where their commander is killed within seconds; despite this, the soldiers go on, only to die one by one to the machine guns on the other side. This movie truly demonstrated to me the futility of the war: fought by boys under the command of fools.

In addition, looking at the pictures in the article, “World War I in Photos: Introduction,” I was struck by the multitude of medals and awards that the European rulers had. I assume that none of them, and none of their successors would ever be reduced to fighting as a foot soldier in the trenches, but I believe that doing so would have made them much less willing to declare war. Suffering truly can teach lessons that nothing else can; in the same article, the first image depicts the cheerful naivete of girls handing flowers to soldiers, in comparison to the fourteenth picture, of Austro-Hungarian troops executing Serbian civilians. It truly reminds me of a quote by Dalton Trumbo, “World War I began like a summer festival—all billowing skirts and golden epaulets. Millions upon millions cheered from the sidewalks while plumed imperial highnesses, serenities, field marshals and other such fools paraded through the capital cities of Europe at the head of their shining legions.”


The most significant lesson that I believe can be learned from this war is that we should take all possible steps to prevent war in the future. War is terrible and not at all magnificent, and the death that is so indelibly attached to war is even more inexcusable. I won’t say that there is no reason that would ever justify war, but in general, war is started by arrogant leaders, and paid for by the common people. This is not the lesson that the world learned from World War 1 at the time. There was little foresight, and what foresight did exist came from people like Woodrow Wilson, who was disregarded by many of the European Nations. The allies were more interested in punishing Germany and Austria-Hungary than they were in preventing future war, as demonstrated by the treaty of Versailles. Their inability to think about the bigger picture resulted in World War II; this lack of foresight and interventionist beliefs resulted in even more conflicts in the years since then, most notably by the United States (and it’s inability to keep its military out of situations it had no reason to be in). The domino effect described by the Guardian in its interactive exhibit was truly the difference between this being a continent-wide war and a world war; this tangle of countries who all feel obligated to join the war was the cause of the most destruction, as many of these European powers had colonies which also sent troops, beyond what was already sent by the European countries.


The world was irrevocably changed after the First World War, due to both the advances in military technology and in the trauma sustained among both soldiers and civilians. The IWM’s article, “Firsts of the First World War,” describes the many advances that resulted from the First World War. For example, it marked the beginning of aerial warfare, air attacks on civilians, chemical warfare, tank usage, and flamethrowers. These military advances would make war even more deadly, and as such, were responsible for many of the casualties incurred over the course of the war. In addition, as the IWM’s other article, “5 Things You Need To Know About The First World War,” states, the First World War was also waged against civilians. The use of propaganda to demonise opposing forces, and atrocities committed by invading forces all contributed to the great loss of civilian lives. The 16 million lives lost were felt by survivors, and the trauma that was incurred across the world would not heal before the Second World War, just over two decades later.


Although the cost of this war was incomprehensible, it is important to learn about war, especially the World Wars. Beyond the need to learn from history, and the responsibility all of us have to make sure that it never happens again, we should remember the people who laid down their lives, willingly or not, in service of egotistical leaders. There is great danger in blindly following authority, and rebellions like the Bolshevik Revolution (no matter what the results were), demonstrate the need to think of what the consequences of our leaders’ actions will be before blindly following them. In the movie “We Shall Not Grow Old,” many of the soldiers seem proud to be fighting, speaking of how anxious they were to see action and to “kill Germans.” Though this thinking was encouraged by propaganda, their loyalty was blind, and they paid for it with their lives. I believe that being loyal includes the responsibility to speak up when necessary, and learning about history means that it is easier to support one’s argument with examples. Little can be gained through terror and bloodshed; more was lost from the war, as different alliances ruptured and the seeds of resentment were sowed, growing into World War II a short time later. Death is not, and will never be, glorious, and the most important takeaway from learning about any war, but this one especially, is that it cannot happen again.

SesameStreet444
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 22
  1. In my own opinion, there was much less of an objective to World War I as there was a competition for power, an excuse to see which nation could harness the most land, firepower, and influence over its citizens. According to the article, “Firsts of World War One,” this was a “war of innovation,” as the industrialization of European nations and the developments in new weapons and technologies enabled a far bloodier and consequential war than what had ever been seen in earlier times. Of course, these new innovations came with an eagerness for Europe to showcase its power, and the assassination of Franz Fernindand provided a perfect opportunity to do so. According to the article “Five things you need to know about World War I,” Britain alone had produced 4 million rifles, 250,000 machine guns, 52,000 airplanes, 2,800 tanks, 25,000 artillery pieces and over 170 million rounds of artillery shells by 1918, all for a war that never would’ve gotten to the degree it had had they decided to butt out. Germany too had an affinity for new creations, as their use of air raids and poison gas during the war had wounded and killed many soldiers as well. From listening to The Guardian’s interactive documentary, it is clear that Europe also wanted to establish dominance through their control over their colonial regions, recruiting the extended nations of their empires to fight a war that didn’t concern them in the slightest. Propaganda and forced military service played a huge role over the course of the war, as in many cases it was utilized to greatly influence public opinion, creating false senses of national pride and further polarizing opposing nations. The brainwashing of citizens was what allowed millions of young men to enter a bloodbath of improper hygiene, trench warfare, and mass murder. Overall, the war’s point was nothing beyond Europe’s typical desire for more, and in this case, the effects were terribly harrowing. The reality of the war was an unjustifiable amount of loss and suffering. The article “World War One in Numbers” provides more than enough statistics that describe the immeasurable cost of human life during World War I. Eight and a half million troops were believed to have been killed, two million soldiers died from disease and malnutrition, and thirteen million civilians were killed as well. The Atlantic’s “World War I in Photos” depicts images of dead soldiers, executed civilians, and awful war conditions. And yet, hardly anything was actually gained from World War I, including land or power. The only noteworthy benefit of the war were the medical advancements which led to improved treatment. But through the use of trench warfare, neither side was able to make significant gains in obtaining land, and the economies of both the victorious and losing nations were obliterated. Britain’s involvement in the war had accosted them millions of their own soldiers. It’s also worth mentioning that the debt and international blame placed on Germany as a result of this war was one of the driving causes behind World War II.
  2. The lesson behind this war isn’t exactly direct, considering that there was not much of an actual point to this war in general. But I think that statement in and of itself is the underlying lesson behind World War I: That horrifying events can take place for virtually no reason at all. It’s rather scary to think that such a degree of brutality can occur without logic, but it makes it all the more important that we continue to remember the fatal effects of this war, so that we do not repeat it again, especially in an age where newly advanced weaponry can cause an insurmountable amount of death and destruction. I also think this war can teach us how governments motives are often corrupted and don’t have their populations greatest interests in mind.
  3. The dynamic of war was forever altered after World War I. The introduction of aircraft and the mechanical methods of warfare allowed mass murder to spin out in a way that hadn’t occurred before, as there never had been a war so industrialized up until this point. Many of modern day's standards of war- gas warfare, chemical warfare, compulsory military service, tanks, flamethrowers, camouflage- these were all built on the advancements made during WWI. There were also many changes in the political and social aspects of Europe following World War I. Over 100,000 British women had joined the military between 1914 and 1918.
  4. It’s important to understand World War I because it could very easily happen again. As the “5 Things” article states, this war was not accidental, but began as a result of human actions and decisions. Even now, as we talk about a war that occurred over 100 years ago, there is still the threat of another large-scale battle between Russia and Ukraine, as some news stations have said it could potentially be the start of World War III. There will never not be a desire for dominance, power, and land among world nations, and all it takes is one wrong move, or one wrong decision for millions of lives to be put at risk. Understanding the tactics and motives of war is the only way to evolve, so as not to repeat our past mistakes.

Peverley
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Posts: 25

The Insanity that was World War I Post

I think that reasons for fighting certainly changed as the war progressed, but at its core, I think that WWI was the culmination of decades of tension. The borders and alliances throughout the world had been shifting and changing and disputed for a long time, and many nascent empires were eagerly looking to expand and assert their dominance. However not only were these nations looking for a way to gain power, they were also looking to take power from their enemies. As can be seen on the interactive map, even the smallest countries in central america declared war or took sides in the conflict, which made it a truly global war, involving people of all races, creeds, and identities. This war was also one of many firsts, including the use of improved artillery, chemical warfare, tanks, and even women began joining ranks and taking up jobs previously deemed “for men” in support of the war effort. This war was really the first modern war and it was fought on the ground, at sea, and in the air, with the advent of new airplane technologies. It also showed the world how ugly and horrifying war can be, with the use of trench warfare, and contant firing and bombing of enemy lines during practically a years-long standstill. In the 2020 film 1917, the realities of trench warfare are seen (albeit slightly less gruesomely than they actually were) and demonstrates the bravery of the young men fighting and how much they were willing to sacrifice for their countries. It also shows an important aspect of the war which was the relative lack of animosity between individuals of warring sides. With examples like the Christmas Truce of 1914 where there was an unofficial ceasefire to celebrate the holiday even between enemies. This is seen again in 1917 when Blake rushes to save the German airman from his burning crashed plane, only to be stabbed minutes later and loses his life just trying to save the life of another young man who had to face the perils of war.


From a cost and reward standpoint, I think, without a doubt, that far more was lost than was gained. Entire generations of young men were lost, millions of civilians were killed for virtually no change in territories. Although little territorial changes occurred, in terms of an understanding of the state of the world at this point, I think that all who were involved gained clarity on just how far people and governments were willing to go to maintain (or gain) power. However even this epiphany does not and will never make up for the number of lives lost and destroyed by this war. Families were ripped apart, millions of soldiers perished both from disease and from battle wounds and civilians were bombed and hung in their homelands. World War I left much of Europe in shambles, needing to be put back together for years after the war’s end. Yet even all of this loss of life for very little change was not the most dangerous or costly part of the war. The inconclusiveness of this conflict was arguably the most dangerous aspect of all because it led to the further destruction, extents of evil, and astronomical loss of life seen in the second world war which was to follow a few decades after.


An important lesson I think the world learned from WWI was just how fragile international coexistence is. The fact that the assassination of an Austro-Hungarian archduke by a Serbian nationalist directly led to open warfare between the Triple Entente and the Central Powers in western Europe is proof of the fragile and intricate web of alliances that existed at the time and how one event triggered a global conflict. The world also realized, after the war had ended, that there were boundaries in warfare that needed to be established. WWI saw a massive loss of life, and the Treaty of Versailles began the long road to establishing the bounds of warfare, later solidified at the Geneva Conventions after the second world war.


I think that the world did change forever after WWI because it was a turning point in the balance of power between countries, both politically and technologically. Numerous nations were able to garner public support for a brutal war that took the lives of millions, all while using propaganda to villainize the enemy and convince the people they were fighting for a noble cause. Young men lined up in the thousands to sign up for the service, and some as young as twelve lied about their age just to get a piece of the action. It also was the start of real militaristic technological advancements and the use of brutal methods of warfare like the use of poisonous gases and trench warfare, which showed the extremes of how horrifying war can be and how no one held back in their struggle for a victory, The war also established alliances that would mostly be upheld throughout the remainder of the following decades (with notable exceptions like Italy, for example) and would set the stage for World War II, which was the most recent truly global conflict.


I do think that learning about and understanding WWI is important because it gives us insight into how one single event can trigger a global outbreak of war, and how fragile international relationships can be. Especially now with the beginnings of a crisis in Ukraine, the world watches to see what the best course of action for NATO and the global superpowers are as to whether or not intervening is the right decision. Tens of nations involved themselves in WWI to back their allies and it led to a massive loss of life, with some countries like Russia and France losing soldiers and civilians in the millions. Learning about the war can serve as a powerful lesson in forming alliances and the sheer level of destruction that total war can bring and gives us a better sense of why our world is structured geographically and politically as it is now.


caramel washington
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 15

In my opinion, this war was almost completely unnecessary. The senseless murder of millions of people through some of the cruelest methods humans had ever discovered can never have any real point. Additionally, even if soldiers were able to survive the war with minimal injuries, they were still harmed by the trauma it caused. In the film I watched, All Quiet on the Western Front, German patriots enlist in the Imperial German Army, in search of adventure and eager to assert the superiority of their nation. However, these young men endure a brutal training camp and soon find themselves face to face with the full horrors of war when they are sent to the front lines to fight and likely die. As the conflict rages, we see the characters grow from eager boys to disillusioned men who bear the scars of war on both their bodies and souls. Even civilians in war areas suffered from this insanity: they were deprived of necessary resources due to rationing, and many of them had their homes destroyed and were forced to flee as refugees due to the violence.


If anything was gained from this war, I think the social progress and the restrictions on chemical and biological agents in warfare were most notable. World War I brought about massive social upheaval, as millions of women entered the workforce to replace men who went to war and those who never came back. Additionally, there were severally all black regiments, and many of them ended up fighting alongside white soldiers and were honored for their heroic acts. Additionally, the severe effects that chemical weapons such as mustard gas had on soldiers and civilians during World War I galvanized public and military attitudes against their continued use. The Geneva Convention agreements restricted the use of chemical and biological agents in warfare and remains in effect today.


I absolutely believe that the world changed after the first World War. From what I have gathered, it seems like people didn't believe that a disaster on that scale was possible, and afterwards they wanted to right the wrongs and prevent it from happening again (from the perspective of the victors at least). The League of Nations was formed and Germany was forced to pay enormous reparations to other countries that were affected. Although these measures proved ineffective at preventing another world war only a few decades later, they still marked a distinct change in the way that countries tend to interact with each other.


Before taking AP World History last year, I honestly knew very little about World War I, other than the basic list of countries involved and the fact that it didn't seem to be a conflict about any particular thing. Previously in my education, it tended to be glossed over, and seen as "less important" than World War II. However, I think understanding the complex factors involved, and more importantly the effect it had on human life, is absolutely a relevant part of studying history. Looking back, the specific causes of the war matter less than the ways that it affected people, both at the time and going forward with history.

poutineenthusiast
Boston, MA, US
Posts: 21

World War I was the most bloodshed history had ever seen at that point in time. This massive geopolitical conflict led to a massive casualties for what reason? In my opinion, I don’t think there WAS a point to the war. World War I was initially set off by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914 at the hands of a Serbian nationalist. From there, the tensions between Austria and Serbia fired up and involved other surrounding countries. World War I was nothing more than a messy entanglement of allyships between nations who refused to back down. At its core, the breaking point of the whole matter resulted from Serbia’s refusal to agree to Austria’s reparations, and the involvement of other European countries escalated the situation further. By the end of the war, much more was lost than gained. As a result of the war, nine new nations were created under the Treaty of Versailles, but 16 million lives were lost, four major empires were toppled, and Europe was left in shambles. WWI laid the groundwork for the next world war, showing the world the immense destruction that was possible.

The greatest takeaway from World War I is the sheer destruction that the world is capable of. For many, WWI served as a warning. The massive dangers that the entangling alliances posed served as a very real threat to people of the past and even now. This “war to end all wars” was not the case, and it's important that we understand the true destruction of world wars. Some of the photographs depict the massive destruction that was a result of the war. Landscapes were desolate and inhabitable. Is this the kind of world that we like to live in? I refuse to believe that war is the go-to solution in these cases, as it leaves so many people’s lives destroyed. What people need to remember is the true reality of war.

WWI changed the social climate of the world forever. For such a massive scale conflict, it’s no surprise that the world changed as well. The Red Scare was an immediate product of the war and the world became frenzied with suspicion of one another. Following the war, nobody trusted each other and mass hysteria swept the world. The world changed geopolitically too as new nations were created and some disappeared. New efforts were being made for new goals and different aspects of the world had changed following the war.

The sheer destruction of World War I really just captures the sheer destruction that humans are capable of. It’s important to learn about the war because there are so many lessons to takeaway from the conflict, yet we have historically ignored them. It’s like an obligation that we do not repeat the mistakes of history, but we fail at it every single time. With photographs and statistics, the effects of the war become an unignorable presence that the world has to live with. It was massive force that NEEDS to be understood so that we do not repeat our mistakes

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